Final Report of Turkey on National Campaign Action carried out within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence Against Women, including Domestic Violence
1. Legal and Policy Measures:
In Turkey, the principle of equality between women and men is regulated in the Constitution Articles 10, 41 and 90. Although in the Constitution Article 10 the provision is involved as “All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such considerations” ; with an amendment made in 2004, the provision of “Men and women have equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice” was also included.
In 2001, with an amendment made in the Constitution Article 41, the provision of “The family is the foundation of the Turkish society and based on the equality between the spouses” was also included.
In 2004, with an amendment made in the Constitution Article 90, a new paragraph was included in the Article and the rule of International agreements which are duly put into effect in the area of fundamental rights and freedom was accepted.
With the New Turkish Civil Code which was entered into force on the 1st January 2002, contemporary provisions which ensure the equality between the spouses were regulated.
Basic amendments which were introduced in the New Turkish Civil Code are as follows;
With this Code, the sentence of “Spouses carry out the conjugal community together” was introduced.
Representation of the conjugal community shall be given to the both spouses.
It is regulated that the spouses shall choose together the house that they will live.
The amendment made in 1997 gives woman right to use her own surname (maiden surname) on condition that her own surname comes before the surname of her husband. This amendment is also included in this new Law.
It is also regulated that the guardianship of the children shall be used by spouses, together.
Another point which is regulated in the law is that one of the spouses shall not be obliged to have the permission from the other spouse in the selection of profession and job.
According to the Law, “the regime of participation in acquired property” which ensures the spouses to share the properties gained after the marriage in an equal way in case of divorce has been adopted as the legal property regime.
With this Law, the legal age for marriage has been raised to, over 17 for both men and women.
On the point of sharing the inheritance, if there is just cause, upon the request of the surviving spouse or other legal heirs the right to residence or usufruct can be granted in lien of ownership.
Family Protection Law No 4320 was entered into force on 17th January 1998. In 2007, an amendment was made in order to eliminate the problems related to the implementation of the Law. The Regulation prepared for the implementation of the Law was entered into force on the 1st March 2008.
With the mentioned Law, violence has gained a wider scope and the spouses who live separately although being married, the spouses about whom the court gave decision to divorce or the spouses who have right to live separately and the children are also protected. Using the expression of “guilty partner or other family member” gives opportunity to rule also the other members of the family who live under the same roof. It is also included in the law that the judge of the family court may decide the perpetrator to “apply to a health center for inspection or treatment, and it is also resolved that the applications to enjoy from the law and the procedures for the execution of the law are free of charge.
Family Protection Law and Regulation on the Implementation of The Family Protection Law include a protection order concerning the application of the criminal/perpetrator to a health centre for medical therapy and examination. The details of the regarding order are regulated in the Regulation and provide information about the aim of the order, responsible institutions, procedure and the therapy process.
According to the Municipality Law which was entered into force on 13th July 2005, Metropolitan Municipalities and municipalities that have a population of over 50.000 shall build guest houses for women and children.
Turkish Penal Code No: 5237 was entered into force on the 1st June 2005. The most important amendment made in the Law is that sexual offences are classified under the section “crimes against individuals” instead of “crimes against society.
Turkish Penal Code Article 3 regulates the provision that in the implementation of the Turkish Penal Code, no discrimination based on race, religion, language, nation, sex…etc. is permissible among people and no privilege shall be conceded to anybody.
Basic form of the sexual assault has been defined and punished in the Law. (Besides, in case the sexual assault has been committed against the spouse, investigation and prosecution shall be made upon the complaint of the victim)
Sexual harassment in the workplace is also regulated and the perpetrators of this kind of offence shall be punished.
In the Article which regulates the qualified crimes, including the expression of “Under the Name of Honor” it is adopted that the crime of felonious homicide shall be punished with the highest punishment.
It is regulated in the Law that if one person instigate or encourage somebody to commit a suicide or another person who help the other to commit this crime shall be inflicted imprisonment.
The crime of malicious injury is also regulated and shall be punished (In case this crime is committed against an ascendant or descendant or committed against the spouse or brother/sister, it is recognized as the qualified crime, hence the punishment has been increased)
In the Law, the crimes of abduction, withholding, torture, torment, forsaking are regulated and punished.
Also, maltreatment to another person living in the same dwelling shall be punished.
In 2005, a Parliamentary Investigation Commission was established for “Investigating the Reasons Behind Honour and Custom Motivated Murders on violence against women and Children, and Identifying the Measures to be Taken”.
The Commission Report put forth the vital tasks to be carried out by social bodies for the prevention of such crimes and changing the sentences together with the traditional mind-set on the issue.
Within the framework of this report, the Prime Ministry Circular has been issued to coordinate the Activities of the related governmental institutions, universities and the media on the topic of “The Measures to be Taken on the Prevention of violence against women and Children, and Honor and Custom Motivated Crimes.”According to the Circular, General Directorate on the Status of Women has the coordination task to monitor and follow the protective and preventive measures to be taken by the related institutions listed in the Circular for combating violence against women and honor/custom killings; Prime Ministry General Directorate on Social Services and Child Protection Agency has the coordination task to monitor and follow the protective and preventive measures to be taken by the related institutions for combating violence against children.
In accordance with the Prime Ministry Circular 2006/17, the Ministry of Interior gave directives to 81 Governorships with the Circular (2007/6) issued on 11th January 2007 on the works to be realized by security forces, Municipalities, Provincial Social Services Directorates, Province/district Special Administrations, Province/District Social Service Departments to eliminate violence acts against women and children and honor/custom killings.
In Turkey’s 9th Development Plan (2007-2013) to conduct awareness raising activities for society in order to eliminate violence against women is included as one of the objectives of the Plan.
2. Support and Protection for Victims:
The shelters/guesthouses are the primary services provided to women victimized by violence. The women’s shelters can be opened and run by General Directorate on Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK), municipalities, special provincial administrations, and NGOs etc.
There are 44 shelters in Turkey. SHÇEK runs 23 of them, and the remaining 21 are under the municipalities, NGOs, district governors’ offices and governors’ offices.
The common goal of the above-mentioned bodies is to provide temporary shelter services to women victimized by or under the risk of violence, in a violence-free and dignified manner.
Shelters operate on a 7/24 basis and the services are free of charge. The women are provided with psychological counseling and legal assistance services at the shelters. Moreover; there are literacy courses, trainings for trade, profession, vocation organized, and group activities and cultural activities undertaken in order to ensure involvement of women in social life.
The post shelter services provided to women comprise in cash/in kind assistance for a certain period of time, and the children of such women are also given right to free of charge nursery assistance.
The 183 Call Line, which operates free of charge and on a 7/24 basis, is another important service. The call line provides legal and psychological counseling and informative assistance services upon request. This service is operated by SHÇEK.
The women victimized by violence can also be provided with legal assistance by the women’s rights commissions (centers) of bar associations, free of charge.
The family counseling centers and community centers also furnish legal-psychological assistance. The victims are given legal assistance, especially in case of lack of means to afford the costs associated with court procedures, and provided with a free of charge attorney by the bar association. Some of women’s NGOs also provide counseling services.
3. Data Collection:
The Turkish Institute of Statistics (TÜİK) is the national mechanism in charge of statistical affairs. The administrative data collection is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Security Affairs.
A nation-wide comprehensive field research, aimed at collecting information on sources and forms of violence against women in Turkey, was officially launched on November 30th, 2007 for the purposes of monitoring and combating domestic violence against women. The research outcomes shall be used as data within the scope of TÜİK’s “Official Statistics Program”.
4. Awareness Raising:
The General Directorate on the Status of Women (KSGM) and the United Nations Population Fund have been co-running the “Stop Violence against Women Campaign” since November 25th, 2004. The following activities are being undertaken in the framework of the said campaign:
- · An official cooperation has been established between KSGM and the Association of Turkish Clothing Industrialists, as a result of which the men’s wear produced by affiliated firms have been put on sale with labels carrying “Stop Violence against Women” message alongside the routine price tag. On the week of “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25th”, bill posters on stopping violence against women have been produced and displayed on the shops and malls.
· A spot film has been produced at the initial stage of the campaign with the participation of celebrities from arts and sports worlds, and the said films have been screened at national TV channels and movie theatres. The footballers of the Premier Division have put on banners and t-shirts carrying the “Stop Violence against Women” message.
· The bill posters on stopping violence against women, and also custom/honor killings, have been brought to the attention of the public opinion on the advertisement boards at different parts of the cities as a result of KSGM’s collaboration with the Metropolitan Municipalities of Ankara and İstanbul. The said bill posters and brochures are also sent to requesting agencies in order to ensure awareness-raising by means of visual materials.
· A spot film has also been produced with the participation of Prime Minister; State Minister; Director of Religious Affairs and Director of KSGM in order to create and strengthen public awareness and social sensitivity on prevention of violence against women so that this important social problem gets the attention it merits. This film is being broadcasted on national and local television channels.
· The 2005 Young Journalists Award theme was selected as “Stop Violence against Women”, and the young professionals were awarded for their relevant works.
KSGM has been implementing “Combating Domestic Violence against Women Project”, with the financial assistance of the European Commission, and technical assistance of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The following activities are undertaken in the framework of the said project:
· A stand was put at Ankara Kızılay Tube Station in order to create social awareness and sensitization on the occasion of “International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women”. The organization enabled distribution of informative materials and screening of spot films produced by the Project. The other promotional materials developed by the project have also been sent to all governorates and municipalities.
· Two different spot films have been produced in the framework of Combating Domestic Violence against Women Project that emphasize provisions regulated by Law No: 4320 such as taking necessary measures against perpetrators upon application of third parties, and provision of state protection to victims of violence. The said films, which also convey the “Violence against women is a crime, do not overlook and do not remain silent!” messages, are being broadcasted at national and local TV channels.
The project results are now published on “Combating Domestic Violence against Women Project” web site: www.aileicisiddet.net
In addition to the above-mentioned awareness and sensitivity raising activities on violence against women, there are also in-service training programs for the service providing public sector professionals. It is within this framework that a Protocol was signed between the General Directorate On The Status Of Women and Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Security Affairs (26.12.2006) under the name of “The Role of the Police Forces in the Prevention of Violence against Women and the Applicable Procedures Project”, under the provisions of Prime Ministry Circular (No:2006/17) On Measures To Prevent Violence Acts Against Women and Children And Crimes In The Name Of Honor and Custom.
The training program comprises areas such as “violence against women, gender equality, ways of approach to victims of violence, and the effective enforcement of Law No: 4320 on the Protection of the Family, and other relevant legislation. The project aims to train approximately 40.000 staff of the General Directorate of Security Affairs that work at the police centers and stations. After the completion of the trainings, said security staff (police officers) will be able to make risk evaluation for women victimized by violence and will be able to canalize (direct) these women to Services and Child Protection Department, shelters, and other relevant institutions/departments.
Besides the above-mentioned Protocol, there is also a similar Protocol has recently been signed between the General Directorate On The Status Of Women and Ministry of Health (03.01.2008), under the name of “The Role of the Health Personnel in the Prevention of Violence against Women and the Applicable Procedures Project”. With this Protocol, it is targeted to reach 500 trainers and 75000 health personnel.
5. National Plans Of Action
In accordance with the Prime Ministry Circular No: 2006/17 (July 2006) on “Measures for Combating Violence against Women and Children, and Honor Killings”; the “Combating Domestic Violence against Women National Action Plan” has been finalized and rendered effective with the participation of all relevant stakeholders. The objective of the Action Plan is to collaboratively define and implement the necessary measures for prevention of all forms of violence against women in our country.
The National Action Plan has recently been published as a book, and disseminated to all relevant agencies and institutions.
Assessment of the Impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalized in your country?
Specification: Turkish Penal Code embraces arrangements with regard to violence against women. The following provisions of the Penal Code typify such arrangements: felonious homicide, malicious injury, sexual assault, sexual harassment, torture, forced abortion, deprivation of liberty and crimes of discrimination. (Articles 82, 86, 102, 105, 94, 99, 109, 96, 122)
The Law on the Protection of Family No: 4320 also provides for protective measures which are applied in case of acts of domestic violence.
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. Gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance?
Specification: The following offences are considered as aggravated factors in case of being committed against a partner: felonious homicide, malicious injury, sexual assault, deprivation of liberty, violation of obligations arising from Family Law, torture…etc.
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. Specialized courts on domestic violence, specialized units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
Specification: Family Courts, Criminal Court of Peace, Women’s Rights Commissions of Bar Associations
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state?
Specification: In 38 provinces there are 44 shelters. (In total, there are 81 provinces in Turkey). 23 of these shelters are run by Government (Prime Ministry General Directorate on Social Services and Child Protection Agency). The other 21 shelters are run by municipalities, NGOs…etc)
Specification: The data collected by the Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Security, The data collected by the Ministry of Justice and Gendarmerie Headquarters
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?